Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


She slept in this morning.

I heard her bedroom door click open, her princess toes pad down the hall. She came into my bedroom and exclaimed, "Today's my birthday!"

"Yes!" I said, "Today IS your birthday." After days of counting down, she finally got it right. Tomorrow, no doubt, she'll be sad to learn it's all over. But today is now and it's all hers.

Her baby sister was already back asleep for her morning nap. Her brother was watching Cat in the Hat on PBS. So we got some rare snuggle time alone together. We lay there silent. She played with my hair. She practiced holding her little finger down with her thumb so she could show everyone how old she is now. She whispered to me, "You're my best, best friend."

Later we went downstairs for breakfast and along with her usual bowl of Cheerios with sliced bananas I snuck in two pieces of chocolate candy. I put my finger up to my lips shushing her so she knew this treat was only for her. She quietly snickered in delight.

I told her she could wear whatever she wanted to today. She chose the light pink tutu over the dark pink tutu. I buttoned up her ivory cardigan and she put on her pearl necklace. Then I braided her hair.

As is family tradition, we drove down the street a ways to the local florist shop to pick out balloons. She picked out a butterfly-shaped mylar balloon paired with four light pink latex balloons. She carried them out to the car all by herself.

For lunch she and William ate out in the backyard in the plethora of sunshine. She chose grapes over strawberries. Afterward she played with the bat and ball and her watering can and her jump rope and swung on the swing. On her belly, of course.

While she played I baked her cake. Chocolate with cream cheese frosting. Dyed pink, of course.

During rest time I let her bring her balloons in her bedroom with her. She thought this was the best allowance in the world.

For dinner tonight she's asked for pizza "with balls on it."

"Hmmm..." I said, "What kind of balls do you mean?"

"Pink!" She exclaimed.

Ah, but, of course. One large one-topping pizza, please. Yes, with pink balls.

I think I'm going to enjoy three.

One hundred years ago today, or was it just yesterday, I was lying in my bed feeling the soft pangs of labor come over me. I knew today would be the day. At 9:30 that night we rushed to the hospital and just fifteen minutes before midnight, before this day would be the next, she was here. And we were in love.

Happy birthday to my Lucy girl!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Two Freshmen Roommates

In lieu of 7 Quick Takes today I'm going to tell you a little story.

Once upon a time there were two men who, by chance and with a little luck, became college freshmen roommates.

These two men made perfect roommates because each desired to act half the age they actually were.  Actually, half that already halved age and that's what they acted like.

Sadly, halfway through their sophomore year, one of these men decided to transfer to a different college more than 500 miles away.

Still, the men remained good friends. They traveled the distance more than once to see each other. They were groomsmen in each other's wedding. And, whenever they had a chance, they sent each other texts about farts and poop and David Hasselhoff and things of this nature.

Time went on. They got good jobs. Bought houses. Married fine women (if I do say so myself). And had babies. Lots and lots of babies.

Now, because the distance between them remained so far, they saw each other less and less. Time apart measured in years instead of months.

Then one day one of these men had a grand idea. How about we meet in Chicago over Easter weekend so that our children can finally meet one another? All SEVEN of our children.

And so it happened. And it was perfectly epic. Way more perfect than any of us ever could have imagined. In fact, I think it is very possible we may have made a love connection.
William & Lily
Now maybe, just maybe, if they play their cards right, these once freshman roommates could find themselves being called father-in-law at the very same wedding.  The possibilities are endless.

But no pressure, William and Lily.  No pressure.
Not to be forgotten are new BFFs, Bridget & Lucy.

Friday, April 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes [4.13.12] The Big Issues Edition

1. The Baby, also rarely known as Katherine, has started to sleep through the night a few times a week. This makes me a little sad. I know you're all, "whaaaat...?!" Let me explain. She's sleeping through the night because we've started to give her tiny bites of real food at dinner because she was getting pissed up there on the dining room table in her Bumbo seat watching everyone else devour their meal while she just sat there. So she eats a little bit, takes a bath with the big kids, gets jammied up, nurses a little while and goes to bed. It's starting. The routine of an older baby. It means she's not new anymore. It means I, alone, can't satisfy all her needs.

There's only one cure for this. Another baby. Just kidding. I'm not pregnant. I promise.

2. But let's talk about birth control while we're on the subject. This is a topic I don't usually dabble in. It's hard to talk about this kind of stuff without offending someone or making someone feel isolated. I love all my readers and want you to feel like you belong here no matter what your choices in life.

So here's the thing: I don't use birth control. Or, I do, but I don't call it that. I know there are some of you out there that are thinking Oh, she's that kind of a Catholic. We, Natural Family Planning (NFP) users, have gotten a bad image. Like we're a bunch of wackos who have a desire to be eternally pregnant. This is not true. For me, anyway.

I am Catholic. But other things you should know about me include having drug-free births and having to be nearly incapacitated before I will even think about swallowing a couple of Advil pills. Trying to work naturally with my body is one of my life's philosophies so Catholic or not, this is the path I've chosen.

I know there are other methods that don't include drugs or hormones but it still feels weird for me to protect myself from my husband. Like he's some sort of a one-night stand.

If you ever do any sort of research on the methods that fall under the umbrella of Natural Family Planning (none of which include the calendar or rhythm method, by the way) you would find it to be highly effective. As much, or more so than any of the non-natural methods.

But here's where I have a huge beef with NFP. And I think it's an issue most NFP users have been skirting around for years. NFP totally and completely sucks when you are breastfeeding and before your fertility has returned. It makes me really mad. In fact, I think it's downright lazy for any family planning method not to give you a sure process to follow. If science can grow a baby in a test tube, how can it not determine, with any precision, the return of a woman's fertility following childbirth?

The biggest problem about this is that there isn't any other time in life when I least want to get pregnant. I want my baby to be able to be the baby for a while. I want to give my body time to recover from pregnancy and childbirth. I want to continue breastfeeding without worrying about adverse side effects on an unborn baby.

So I'm calling out NFP advocates. This is total crap. We need to find a solution or drugs and other artificial methods will always win out over a good guess.

3. That probably should have been its own post but instead I buried it in my 7 Quick Takes. I'm weak like that.

4. Brian said I should write about Ann Romney in my Quick Takes this week. At first I said, "Ann who?" But then I Googled her and here's the story in a nutshell. Mitt Romney said he asked his wife what American women care about the most. She told him that we care about the economy. In response to that, some Democrat strategist asked what the heck Ann Romney knew about the economy seeing as she had never worked a day in her life. Ann Romney was a stay-at-home mom to five sons. I can guarantee you she worked her ass off. Even the Obamas spoke out against this strategist affirming how hard it is to be an at-home mother.

But aside from that, let's assume that what this strategist really meant was that Mrs. Romney never worked for pay a day in her life. Because that is true of a lot of stay-at-home mamas. I am not one of them. I did work professionally for almost four years prior to staying at home and also prior to the economic downturn. It has been five years since I have seen a paycheck with my name on it. But still, I can assure you, the state of the economy is high on my list of items that keep me up a night.

I'm not some 1950s wife who gets a weekly allowance from her husband to spend at the Supermarket. I, not Brian, balance the checkbook and make sure all the bills are paid. At any given moment I can tell you how much is in our checking, savings and how much our next credit card bill will be. I plan our weekly meals and determine what's in our food budget. I have two retirement accounts that are only in my name. Within those accounts I trade my own stocks and mutual funds.

And furthermore, when your husband is in sales and his paycheck is your ticket to being able to stay at home, I can guarantee you, the economy is not only high on my list of things I care about but I  can also discuss its state with a healthy supply of knowledge.

5. Let's talk about less intense issues, shall we? I started the Couch to 5K running program this week. I'm super jazzed up about it even though I will admit that I don't really like to run. But it's effective and cheap. The biggest hurdle to overcome was finding the time to do it. After discussing with Brian we determined that Monday, Wednesday and Saturday mornings were the best times. So at 7:30 on those days Brian kicks my butt out of bed and I hit the pavement. I love that about him. He's my biggest motivator. And not in a Tom Cruise kind of way. Just in a I-know-this-is-important-to-you-so-just-do-it way.

6. I went to the grocery by myself with all three kids and without a list this week. I've gone a few times with all three kids but never without a list. I made it through without incident and without any impulse buys. I was on top of the world when I got home. I felt like I totally had my game face on. Until I realized I remembered every single ingredient for four dinner recipes except for the pasta for the pasta bake. And then I totally got down on myself for this. Why do I do that? It was such a success, why dwell on the one teeny tiny fail that will be no problem to render with the corner market three blocks from my house?

7. And finally, I'll leave you with the Picture of the Week. Sometimes when Brian isn't home to help me with the bedtime routine, I'll sit the kids down with the Kindle Fire to read Harold and the Purple Crayon or The Going to Bed Book while I clean up the kitchen. I highly recommend both, by the way, if you have a Fire or iPad or any other tablet.

I caught sight of them while I was wiping off the dining room table and realized this was a God-given moment. When an aggravating or irritating day comes to a close, He taps me on the shoulder to remind me everything is right in the world.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


We went to Chicago for spring break. We drove to Chicago for spring break. And I *think* we had fun. Mostly, anyhow. No one got sick which is a damn miracle considering the illnesses we've endured this year.

The kids were really good...when they weren't sleepy or hungry. Which wasn't their fault.

It was expensive. As most things are in a big city.

And the traffic. Yikes! I'll never complain about our little stretch of I-94 again.

It wasn't very warm but it was still sunny. They don't call it the Windy City for nothing.

Brian and I went out with his brother and his wife on Friday night sans kids.  I partied like I didn't have kids.  That was fun.

We split up mass times on Easter Sunday because we thought it would be easier than bringing everyone into the crowded church. And that made me a little sad. Being that it was Easter Sunday. It turns out the church wasn't so crowded and we probably should have just made it work together.

I've been to Chicago numerous times. But never with the kids. I'm still trying to decide if I'd ever bring them back.

Yes, I think I would. But I would do it differently. I wouldn't wait in lines. I'd avoid the tourist traps. Instead I'd let them roam in the fantastical parks that Chicago has to offer. I'd ditch the car and its out-of-control gas prices, crazy expensive parking and endless tolls and instead opt for an airplane and mass transit. I'm convinced it's the same price or cheaper and a whole heck of a lot less stressful.

And for sure I would spend more time with family and friends. That was the best part of the whole trip.

Overall I'm really glad we went. Our family needed something to look forward to. Something to get us out of these four germ-infested walls.

But, as Brian said the morning after we arrived back home, the two of us might need a vacation after our vacation.
Skydeck at Sears Tower.  (Does anyone call it Willis Tower now?)

The Ledge at Sears Tower.  A glass cube you can stand out on and see clear down to the streets below.  This picture is five minutes after William got over his fear.  Yes, it's that scary.  No, I don't recommend waiting in line for three hours or spending $60 to see this.  Still cool, though.

Brian and I standing in front of The Bean in Millennium Park.  I wish we would have spent three hours in this park instead of ten minutes.  Perfect for kids!

Snuggled up in the Ergo with Uncle Jo-Jo.  Look at the mop of hair!  Best baby in the world.

Standing on Navy Pier, Chicago skyline in background.
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